NRG will finance the entire cost of building the Canal modernization projects, both the new 333 MW generation and the 1.5 MW solar farm.
Building the projects on the existing Canal Station site takes full advantage of existing infrastructure, meaning that there won’t be a need to build a new gas pipeline, backup fuel storage tanks, electrical substation or additional high voltage transmission lines to supply power through the grid. The existing Canal site is an ideal location because it will improve system reliability in the outer reaches of the Massachusetts electrical grid.
If the new Canal 3 turbine will only be called up on peak days, how will you help meet the region’s overall need for electricity as it grows?
Although the growth in load has slowed considerably almost everywhere in the US over the last few years, there are still many days during the summer and winter when the load increases. One of the problems this presents in the New England region is that the majority of generation is fueled by natural gas but there is insufficient natural gas infrastructure. As a peaker plant, Canal 3 will have Ultra Low Sulfur Diesel (ULSD) as a backup fuel, allowing it to operate even when gas supplies are constrained, especially in winter when gas is diverted for home heating use.
As a merchant generation plant that sells power to the grid operator, NRG doesn’t charge ratepayers directly for electricity. However, this additional generation will likely lower what is called wholesale capacity prices for the area, which becomes part of the total retail bill that ratepayers pay.
Are you shutting down Units 1 and 2 as part of this process? Could all three units ever run at the same time?
Units 1 and 2, which are steam-generation boilers attached to steam turbines, will continue to stay in service to support the regional electric grid. On peak load days or during serious system contingencies, we do anticipate that all three units could be operating at the same time. However, we don’t expect any change in the recent operating profiles of Units 1 or 2. Over the past five years, these units have operated less than 10 percent of the time and we expect that to continue. All three units will meet strict requirements from Massachusetts DEP at all times.